DeAngelo Halls learning curve has been a steep one as he adjusts to playing nickel cornerback. Six days into training camp, though, the Redskins veteran said hes finding a comfort zone after spending the first nine seasons of his NFL career playing on the outside.More than anything, though, Hall said hes looking forward to next Thursdays preseason opener in Buffalo so he can cover a receiver not named Santana Moss.Santana has gotten me a couple of times, said Hall with a chuckle. Ive gotten him a couple of times. Im just excited about getting into some real games, going against other guys and seeing how I can mix it up against them.As the nickel corner, Halls list of responsibilities will grow. Not only will be charged with covering the slot receiver, hell also be in position to make more tackles and blitz.But hell still get to utilize his greatest skill: making plays on the ball.I always make this statement: Im probably not a great corner, but I feel like Im a great football player, Hall said. To be a nickel, you have to be a complete football player. You have to tackle, you have to be able to pick off passes, you have to be able to read routes and you have to know what the linebacker does.Hall will be replacing Kevin Barnes, who struggled in slot coverage last season. Cedric Griffin, meantime, is expected to take over for Hall as the outside corner opposite Josh Wilson.For the Redskins to excel in pass defense, theyll need Hall to make a seamless transition to a new position in a revamped secondary the 28-year-old jokingly referred to as full of misfits.In addition to Halls position switch, first-year secondary coach Raheem Morris also will be tasked with integrating two new safeties after the team released Oshiomogho Atogwe and let LaRon Landry walk in free agency. The unit ranked 21st in the league in opposition yards per pass attempt (7.5) last season.Hall said hes also aiming to have a bounce back season individually. After making his third Pro Bowl in 2010, Hall saw his interception total drop from six to three last season.Do I want to make more plays? Yeah, Hall said. The more plays anybody makes, the more games we win. Did I drop plays last year or did I not make plays I should have made? Yeah, I did. I felt like the opportunities were there but I just didnt cash in on them.
Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings?
Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit.
CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS
Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.
Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.
Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.
That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed.
Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.
2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:
* Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans
Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.
Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected.
A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.
According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches.
Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.
Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.
The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!